A thoughtful approach to widespread solar energy that omits some practicalities but delivers a realistic vision of a better...

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SOLAR DIVIDENDS

HOW SOLAR ENERGY CAN GENERATE A BASIC INCOME FOR EVERYONE ON EARTH

A writer offers a proposal for combating both climate change and economic inequality through solar energy.

Stayton (Power Shift, 2015) presents an aspirational guide to saving the world through the extensive adoption of solar power and other forms of renewable energy combined with automatic dividend payments. The dividends would convert the profits from the sale of energy into an unconditional basic income. The enthusiastic book is divided into two parts. The first section is written from the perspective of a person in the year 2099 explaining how the solar-driven system has transformed the world. The second returns to the present to examine how the strategy could be implemented. The 2099 narrator, who is not named, reveals that “my parents…took the extra step of registering me for my standard solar energy array” at birth. The narrator then explains the mechanics of being entitled to a lifetime of monthly payments from the earnings of a cooperatively managed array. The disbursements make government welfare programs unnecessary; the solar panels spark economic expansion (“Solar acts like a local oil well for generating growth”); everyone is more physically and financially secure; and carbon emissions drop substantially. After exploring the future, the author provides a detailed and comprehensive framework for the political, technological, and practical changes necessary to make the solar regime feasible, from infrared-opaque panels that allow arrays to work on farmland to the cooperatives that manage and maintain the equipment and distribute the dividends. Although the book’s premise is utopian, Stayton supplies a painstaking and largely plausible road map for achieving it. In this plan, the increased costs of fossil fuels make higher-priced solar energy viable. The “solar profit margin” is a panacea, and the author explains how its cyclical impacts become self-sustaining once they have been established. The question of how to attain the structural changes necessary to create a solar energy system (“We can accomplish all this without Draconian laws, massive ‘moonshot’ tax expenditures, political movements, or revolution”) is largely glossed over. (“Step 1: convince government bodies that regulate utility rates to establish a high buy-back price”; “That change requires political will to overcome the resistance from vested interests and conventional economists who insist that energy prices must remain low.”) While this is an understandable omission, it is also the volume’s one substantial weakness. But aside from that, the book is thorough in elucidating both the logic and mechanics of the system, with a substantial and well-researched discussion of basic incomes and a compelling argument in favor of higher energy prices (“Since low energy prices are holding back the transition to clean energy, it’s time to reexamine that conventional wisdom”). In addition, Stayton includes an appendix that dives into the numbers in order to prove that the system is physically possible and economically effective (“If we can get 25% of our energy from wind and hydropower, and if we install about 10 kilowatts of PV panels for each person on the planet, then we can meet all of our adjusted energy needs in the future”).

A thoughtful approach to widespread solar energy that omits some practicalities but delivers a realistic vision of a better world.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9904792-3-9

Page Count: 124

Publisher: Sandstone Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2019

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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